In July, the Year 10 members of Westminster’s Platform+ Programme, designed for pupils from state schools who show academic potential, came together for the annual Summer School, where they participated in subject-relevant workshops, visited galleries and museums, and heard from a range of industry experts. The two-day course brought together much of the work of ten Saturday sessions that pupils attend throughout the year, presenting some thought-provoking challenges and an opportunity to think about A Level choices and career prospects.
Two members of this year’s Platform+ cohort reflect on their experiences:
Ruweyda, Platform+ STEM Cohort
I regard my experience at the Summer School to be a positive one because it has incentivised me to consider life beyond secondary school. I spent two days learning science and delving into content. We had lessons in biology and chemistry, and learning more about these subjects cultivated an interest in me. I enjoyed science and even foresaw myself exploring these subjects further in sixth form.
The plethora of practicals further cultivated my interest in science, as well as allowing me to enhance my skills in a laboratory. Having not done many practicals before Platform, I appreciated being able to challenge myself in an area of science that was unfamiliar to me. Moreover, these practicals emphasised the importance of teamwork as I worked with my peers to create and refine ideas. This was beneficial because it taught me how to cooperate with others while still maintaining independent thought.
Over the two days, we met professionals in various industries. We had the privilege of meeting the Chief Editor of Lux Magazine, Darius Sinai. He gave a lecture encouraging us to pursue our aspirations regardless of our parents’ expectations of us. His lecture was not only insightful but encouraging, too. The prospect of pursuing a career in the media has always interested me. Therefore, meeting someone well-established in journalism was useful and inspiring.
Engaging in the Summer School fostered qualities in me which will someday benefit me in the future. This was because there were challenges I encountered in the Summer School and regardless of how intimidating they were, I had to face them; self-confidence was essential to face these challenges. There was a lot of group work, which meant that I had to be extroverted, so I could contribute ideas. This compelled me to have confidence in myself and my ideas.
The Summer School was ultimately a beneficial experience as it gave me many memories and experiences which I will cherish!
Alexandra, Platform+ Liberal Arts Cohort
We had two days of Summer School as part of the Platform+ project. The Liberal Arts students were treated to a trip to the British Museum, where we learned about the ancient Greeks. We looked at some of the Parthenon sculptures before moving on to the ancient Egyptian exhibit. We then went to the National Gallery to see some of the paintings we discussed during our art history class. We were accompanied on the trip by some of the school’s students, who told us about a few of the paintings. Bathers at Asnières was my favourite painting we saw; even though we didn’t look at it in class, it stood out to me among the others. I had already visited these museums, but this time was more meaningful because I got to learn more about the context of the exhibitions rather than just wandering around and reading the cards.
Later in the day we had the opportunity to learn about A Level options and the admissions process. Then, we had a chance to speak with our unexpected guest speaker, Darius Sanai, who had travelled directly from Paris to discuss the media and journalism. We had the opportunity to explore journalism and various roles in the media which was fascinating and made me think about the future.
The following day, we participated in a project that required us to present a solution to the rising cost of living crisis. James Darley, the head of this workshop, worked with us on transferrable skills. To begin our presentations, we were divided into groups. The opportunity to practice working as a team and making new friends while working in a group with people we don’t typically work with made it worthwhile. We had the opportunity to work on public speaking, which I believe is a skill that is necessary regardless of where you go in life. My group proposed providing free childcare for single mothers as one way to alleviate the cost-of-living crisis.
In the afternoon, a representative from Channel 4 came to speak with us about how their company operates and to offer us advice for the future. The Q&A allowed us to inquire about how lots of the employees came to hold their positions. Overall, I believe the experience was a great opportunity to get us thinking about the future and what we want to do making me grateful for the experience.
Westminster Platform was launched in 2018 to fuel the ambitions of boys and girls in Year 5 from the state school sector who show academic potential. Since then, the School has developed its initiative for widening access, with the 2020 introduction of Platform+ for pupils in Year 10 and the recent launch of Platform Pups in 2023, for pupils in Year 2.